Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Death of one, Life of another

Here in New England we seem to be having trouble with keeping our seasons straight. We had summer in April, fall in August, and now Winter is starting in October. This year is going by way too fast! Today I was coming home from a good day in a good mood (more on that in a minute). While I was walking up the walk I saw a beautiful, fiery leaf laying on the side. I picked it up, happy for the beauty God creates, and found the leaf had brown, dying edges and a small hole in it. It was just like the changing seasons and the changing course of my life.

Yesterday noon, I received a call and was finally offered a job! Hallelujah, Praise God Almighty, I have a job!! I even went this morning to file all the paper work and orientation starts Monday :) And God is so cool to organize everything, because last night I learned that the income I've been relying on for the past year and a half may be taking a cut. How great is our God???

Over the weekend, I read Romans chapter 8 and was struck again how awesome God is, how He gives us all the encouragement and tools we need. The first part is awesome, talking about how we are messed up and can't even do the good we want to do when we want to do it. How we are "covertly rebel[lious]" (v.23) and that rebellious part takes over when we least expect it. And while we can't do anything to fix it-can't be good enough, or pay enough to the church, or do anything- Jesus can and does. "He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different" (v.25). It goes on to talk about the law vs Jesus (good stuff, but I'm not gonna get into that here today).

So many people today are on this whole "I have to find myself" kick. Which is all well and good, except they are mostly looking in the wrong places. They take off from work and travel the world, or sit around the house, or simply don't do anything. But right here in verses 5-17 we find how its supposed to work. (And this is the part that really gets me excited). Its all outlined: focusing on ourselves gets us nowhere. That mentality is totally ignoring God. By focusing on ourselves and not Him, we are making ourselves more important than God and saying we can't trust Him with our lives. But if we welcome and trust Him, that's when the 'magic' happens. We become free. We find ourselves in wide open spaces. We experience life on God's terms. My favorite part? I don't think I can say this any better than Paul so..."God's spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children" (v14-16).

I considered leaving it off here, but I think I'll finish the chapter. We're getting to the part that made me read this chapter, anyways. I was beginning to get overwhelmed by the lack of job and the abundance of bills and v.18-28 literally jumped out at me. Don't you love how God does that?? You can read it for yourself, so I'll just give my short commentary. And I don't know if I can make what God showed me in this passage clearly, but I'll try. Basically, everything in creation (meaning absolutely everything) is waiting for something. Everything is being held back from its most glorious until God reveals it. What we see is not what is going to be. This passage uses the analogy of pregnancy. Just as with a pregnant woman, we can't see what the baby looks like, we don't know its details or when its going to come or how its going to come. We just know that something is coming. The woman's body enlarges and as the time for the delivery gets closer, the woman gets more and more uncomfortable and tired of waiting. Then the moment comes. There is pain and all sorts of emotions and changes, but the woman knows that her support-doctor, midwife, husband, whoever- is there for the whole thing. The thing that jumped out in these verses and made me stop was the word waiting. I felt like I was waiting for my life to start, so this was a huge encouragement. What are you waiting for? Where are you having pain in your life? Look at it from this angle. God is preparing you for something. You may not even realize what it is yet, but He does. He is "[enlarging you] in the waiting" (v.25). The difficult times and the rough spots are simply the labor pains of what God is doing in your life. He is moving in you and through you, and in His time it will all be released for all the world to see. And Jesus is right there beside us through it all. And beyond just being there, He's pleading our case to God when we don't have the words or the strength. "God gave His Son for the world, but Jesus gave His life for the church" (-Pastor Raffoul Najem). Jesus came to earth for you. He died for you. He stands before the Father and pleads for you.

The other cool part I realized is hidden in one small sentence: "But it's not only around us; it's within us." (v.22). "It" is the expectant waiting, the holding back, the labor pains that we just talked about. Not only is it in the world, but its in us. Go back to the end of chapter 7, when Paul talks about doing the things he doesn't want to do, and not doing the things he wants to do. These two parts are put near each other for a reason. This vicious cycle that we all share with Paul causes us pain...or is that just me? It hurts to know that I've grieved God. But that pain is a good thing. "The Spirit of God is arousing us within" (v.22). It causes us pain because it causes God pain. That means we're not simply living for ourselves. We are striving to seek God and in seeking Him, trusting Him, He will reveal who we really are. But this process requires the death of one part of us so He can birth something new. That's the pain. Its not only around us, but within us. Yes, there will be pain in the enlarging period. There will be trials. But "none of this fazes us because Jesus loves us." (v.28)

Hope this blesses and challenges you today. I encourage you to read and chew on this passage, its a great one. **Ashley**

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